Case Study: 20 Weeks to Rebuild Dean - Part 3

back rehabilitation case study off season powerlifting Nov 16, 2023
Dead Guedo standing against a black backdrop

There are a few main priorities of any off-season.  Bran Carroll of Power Rack Strength outlines these very succinctly in his book 10/20/Life.  Brian is a wizard when it comes to getting people out of pain and under big weights, so I borrowed from his philosophy, with my own twist of course, then designing Dean's off-season.  These are the points that will guide Dean’s training and keep him in line.

  1. Approach and mindset.  We do not miss lifts and we deload before it’s required, every 2-3 weeks.
  2. Phases of training - offseason and pre-contest.
  3. Form – We emphasize technique above all else.
  4. Being an athlete 24/7 and moving like one in and out of the gym.
  5. Warm-up and its importance.

Dean’s approach and mindset are his gift and his curse.  It is a double-edged sword.  He is an aggressive lifter and puts 100% effort every time he unracks the bar, but often loses sight of the intent of the training.  By this I mean that in his haste to attack the barbell, he forgets cues, allows technique to fall by the way side and rushes himself.  This has drastically improved since his injury, but is an on-going process.  As his coach, I will hold him accountable and place certain parameters around his movements, as I outlined in Part 2.  These parameters will improve his technique and allow him to practice proper patterning.  I will program frequent deloads to allow him to recover efficiently and practice his technique with lighter loads.  I can help, but it is Dean’s responsibility to take care with his rehab and ensure he warms-up effectively and moves like an athlete outside of the gym.  A coach can only control so much.

Off Season Goals

Technical proficiency

This has been discussed previously, but technical proficiency is a huge goal for Dean.  His squat needs the most work, but the focus will be on making every single rep of every single set count.  No wasted effort.  We will train with intent.  Refer to part 2 for the complete list of technical refinements.  How does one program for technique?  First, we regress the lifter and force him to focus.  Tempo work will be big for Dean this off-season, due to his issues with bracing and weight shifting.  By slowing his eccentrics, we force him to properly sequence his movements and engage the proper musculature.  We include isometrics to increase his stability in positions where he is unstable or weak.  Finally, we provide opportunities for improvement through increases in submaximal volume.  This feeds into the second goal.  

Work capacity

I programmed a larger number of submaximal lifts.  More lifts mean more work.  This is done in a calculated manner.  We will start with a small increase and slowly add volume as Dean acclimates to it.  He currently has the fitness level of a SHW lifter.  He is basically a strong, fat guy in a weak(ish), skinny guy’s body (sorry dude!).  It will be very important to bring up his fitness so that he is able to recover optimally from the heavy work during meet prep.  More volume does mean more wear and tear on Dean’s broken body.  To accommodate this, I have included some density training into Dean’s plan.  This will force him to perform more work within a specific time frame.  The beauty of density training is that we can make progress WITHOUT increasing the load on the bar.  We moderate rest intervals to provide a training stimulus, instead of pounding on Dean’s body.

Hypertrophy/weak points

The hypertrophy part takes care of itself.  We’ve increased volume with submaximal loads, increased time under tension with tempo work, increased density by adjusting rest intervals, but what about weak points?  That is addressed in the movement selection.  In the off-season, variety is king.  A varied, targeted stimulus to address Dean’s weak points is his ticket to real progress.  A lot of the weak points will be aided by the technical fixes we will be focusing on, but we need to assess where he misses lifts.  How do we assess that? We watch him lift!  Based on where he misses, we can diagnose where the power leaks are within his structure and address them.

  1. Squat
    1. Upper back to maintain upright posture
    2. ENTIRE LOWER BODY to stand up
    3. Midsection to brace effectively
  2. Bench
    1. Triceps at lockout
    2. Upper back for stability on the chest
    3. Shoulders to transition off the chest
  3. Deadlift
    1. Upper back for a tight wedge
    2. Midsection to brace effectively
    3. Lats to keep the bar close at lockout

When selecting movements, the goal is bang for your buck.  I chose movements that can hit these week points the hardest, while at the same time allowing us to negate unnecessary wear and tear on Dean’s injured areas.  Then, I build in accessory work to really build up the tissue and help Dean put on some muscle.  For the lower body, I stuck with a lot of unilateral work to really challenge Dean’s hip stability and force him to control his body in space. 

Here is a sample of 1 week of programming for Dean (it should be noted, for the % work, we are using a decreased training max):


  1. Bench against bands/ or chain - 5x5, 3 sets RPE 6
  1. 3 second paused close grip - 4x5, 2 sets RPE 6
  1. DB Press - 4x8
  1. Flies (cable?) - 3x10
  1. Pressdowns - 100reps
  1. Stir the Pot - 150reps


  1. *Deadlift - 70%x2x10sets (1 set every 90sec)
  1. 4:1:0:1 Tempo Romanian DL - 5x6, 3 sets RPE 6
  1. Pendlay Barbell Row w Pause at top - 3x8
  1. DB Row - 3x10
  1. DB Shrugs, 3 sec hold at top - 3x20
  1. Bird Dog - 8x10s hold/ side



  1. Standing DB OHP - 4x10
  1. Close Grip Incline (2board) - 5x5 RPE 5
  1. DB Lateral Raise ss/ Chest supported External rotations - 4x15+25
  1. 5:2:1:2 Tempo DB Pushups - 3xfail
  1. Biceps - 5x10
  1. Triceps - 5x20
  1. Underhand Pull Aparts - 100reps
  1. Single arm farmer hold - 4x:30s/arm

*Keep rest periods ~60sec



  1. 4:2:1:0 Tempo SSB Squat - 5x5, 3 sets RPE 6
  1. Form Squat - 50%x1x5sets
  1. 4:1:1:0 Goblet Bulgarian SS - 4x10ea
  1. Single Leg RDL - 4x10
  1. Goblet Squat - 4x10
  1. Planks - accumulate 5 minutes



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